Access to the Texas Border and Eminent Domain

In Kelo v. the City of New London, the Supreme Court ruled that the use of eminent domain to transfer property from one private owner to another to further economic development and in effect, increase the tax base for the city was legal. The case was a big deal, since use of eminent domain by state or local governments previously involved buying property – at or above market value – to build a road, install power or utilities or even railroad lines. In this case, homes were taken to build – you guessed it – more expensive homes.

Recently, Texas landowners along the U.S. border with Mexico have been fighting the government concerning access through personal property to access the border to start survey work. Malkin wraps up some current issues with the fight to build the border fence and links to this Houston Chronical article with details.

In short, if the City of New London can take away homes to build bigger homes, why can’t the government use eminent domain to ensure that property up to 1,000 feet north of the border (or whatever is appropriate to build a fence) is owned by the federal government and guaranty easement access to the border for construction crews and border patrol agents?